The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories
George M. Houser film collection
Repository: Amistad Research Center
Collection Description (CRHP): An oral history interview and some photographs have been added to this collection and are not part of the original donation. The oral history interview was done by Mrs. Brenda B. Square, Director of Archives and Library at the Amistad Research Center during the time of Mr. Houser's donation and visit to the Center.
Collection Description (Extant): George M. Houser is a Methodist minister, whose pacifist beliefs were coupled with decades of work as a civil rights activist and supporter of various African independence movements. Houser was a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and a co-founder of the Congress of Racial Equality and the American Committee on Africa.
George M. Houser was born in 1916 to parents who were Methodist missionaries. He studied at the Chicago Theological Seminary, during which time he became a pacifist. He, himself, was ordained as a Methodist minister following college. Houser joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) and the War Resisters League during the 1940s and was arrested for resisting the draft.
In 1942, Houser founded the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), along with James Farmer, Bayard Rustin, and other members of FOR. Utilizing tactics of non-violent resistance, CORE participated in numerous civil rights protests and sit-ins. The organization announced plans in early 1947 to send a group of African American and White men into the South to test interstate travel segregation laws. The Journey of Reconciliation, which included Houser, began in April of that year; the group faced physical assaults and arrests several times during the trip.
In the early 1950s, Houser turned his attention away from FOR and CORE and began focusing his interests on the struggle against colonialism in Africa. In 1952, Houser, along with Reverend Donald Harrington of the Community Church of New York and Reverend Charles Y. Trigg of Salem Methodist Church in Harlem, established Americans for South African Resistance (AFSAR), which supported the African National Congress's Defiance Campaign Against Unjust Laws in South Africa. The organization later evolved into the American Committee on Africa (ACOA), which broadened its activities to support anti-colonial and nationalist efforts throughout the African continent. Houser served as Executive Director of ACOA from 1955-1981 and of its sister organization The Africa Fund from 1966-1981.
Existing IDs: 617
Finding Aid URL: http://www.amistadresearchcenter.org/archon/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=108&q=george+houser
Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights
African American clergy
Congress of Racial Equality
Fellowship of Reconciliation (U.S.)